Players’ Rights To Medical Care and Treatment
Section 5Accountability and Care Committee
The parties agree to establish an Accountability and Care Committee, which will provide advice and guidance regarding the provision of preventive, medical, surgical, and rehabilitative care for players by all Clubs during the term of this Agreement. The Committee shall consist of the NFL Commissioner and the NFLPA Executive Director (or their designees). In addition, the Commissioner and Executive Director shall each appoint three additional members of the Committee, who shall be knowledgeable and experienced in fields relevant to health care for professional athletes.
The Committee shall meet in person or by conference call at least twice per year, or at such other times as the Commissioner and Executive Director may determine.
The Committee is charged with the following responsibilities:
- i. Encourage and support programs to ensure outstanding professional training for team medical staffs, including by recommending credentialing standards and continuing education programs for Team medical personnel; sponsoring educational programs from time to time; advising on the content of scientific and other meetings sponsored by the NFL Physicians Society, the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Association, and other relevant professional institutions; and supporting other professional development programs;
- ii. Develop a standardized preseason and postseason physical examination and educational protocol to inform players of the primary risks associated with playing professional football and the role of the player and the team medical staff in preventing and treating illness and injury in professional athletes;
- iii. Conduct research into prevention and treatment of illness and injury commonly experienced by professional athletes, including patient care outcomes from different treatment methods;
- iv. Conduct a confidential player survey at least once every three years to solicit the players’ input and opinion regarding the adequacy of medical care provided by their respective medical and training staffs and commission independent analyses of the results of such surveys;
- v. Assist in the development and maintenance of injury surveillance and medical records systems;
- vi. Develop and issue joint position statements on health and safety issues relevant to and impacting professional football players (e.g., CTE, concussion, lower extremity injuries);
- vii. Annually review and develop a mandatory education program concerning health and safety issues relevant to NFL players, including but not limited to, concussion, CTE, and NFL injury data, to be presented to all NFL players by the parties throughout the course of each NFL Season;
- viii. Analyze and provide recommendations regarding injury trends;
- ix. Coordinate public statements by the NFL, NFL Players Association, Clubs and other interested parties regarding football-related health and safety issues;
- x. Beginning with the 2020 regular NFL Season, conduct an annual comprehensive review of Club rehabilitation equipment, facilities and modalities, and thereafter establish and implement minimum standards concerning these areas. The NFLPA shall have the right to commence a Non-Injury Grievance pursuant to Article 43 of this Agreement should a player or the NFLPA believe that a Club’s equipment, facilities or modalities have failed to meet the standards set by the Committee or presents an undue risk of injury. Should the NFLPA file such a grievance, the Parties will arrange an inspection of such facility. If a deviation from the standards set by the Committee or an unduly unsafe condition is found, the Club will be given a reasonable opportunity to cure. If the Club contests whether a condition fails to meet the standards set by the Committee or is unduly unsafe, the Non-Injury Grievance will proceed, and a Non-Injury Grievance arbitrator will decide whether a deviation from the Committee’s standards has occurred or whether a condition is unduly unsafe. If the Non-Injury Grievance Arbitrator finds a deviation or determines that a facility, equipment or modality is unduly unsafe, he or she will issue an order to cure;
- xi. Review any proposed playing rules changes for health and safety impact;
- xii. Examine any subject related to player safety and welfare it desires, and make non-binding recommendations to the parties; and
- xiii. Undertake such other duties as the Commissioner and Executive Director may assign to the Committee.
A player may submit a complaint to the Committee regarding Club medical care. The complaint shall be referred to the NFLPA, the League and the player’s Club, which together shall determine an appropriate response or corrective action if found to be reasonable. The Committee shall be informed of any response or corrective action. Nothing in this Article, or any other Article in this Agreement, shall be deemed to impose or create any duty or obligation upon either the League or NFLPA regarding diagnosis, medical care and/or treatment of any player.
Each Club shall use best efforts to provide its players with high quality medical care appropriate to their needs as elite professional football players consistent with professional standards for the industry.
Separate from and in addition to the procedures set forth in Subsection (d) above, any player or Club, the League or the NFLPA shall have the right to commence an investigation before the Committee concerning the health, safety or medical care provided by Club-affiliated personnel. Within 60 days of the initiation of an investigation, two or more neutral physicians (or other subject-matter experts) will be selected to investigate and report to the Committee on the situation. The neutral physicians shall issue a written report within 60 days of their selection, and their recommendations as to what steps shall be taken to address and correct any issues shall be acted upon by the Parties.
A joint subcommittee of the Accountability and Care Committee, as set forth in this Article, shall analyze injury information and data from performance tracking technology to study training methods, practices and drills that may lead to injuries, focusing on training camp and preparation for training camp, including without limitation, any conditioning testing. The subcommittee will also analyze whether Offseason Workout and training camp loads affect regular season performance and injury rates. The subcommittee will also endeavor to make recommendations or identify best practices that NFL players and Clubs may follow to ensure players are sufficiently conditioned, including evaluating any Club conditioning tests, and prepared for the start of the Offseason Program and training camp, including a training camp “Acclimation Period.” The results of the subcommittee’s analysis will be available to the NFL and the NFLPA but will not be publicly disseminated unless authorized pursuant to the NFL Player Scientific & Medical Research Protocol, as set forth in Section 18 of this Article and Appendix X of this Agreement. Performance tracking technology data will be returned to the Clubs following the subcommittee’s work and may not be retained, distributed or used for other purposes by the subcommittee or its members. The subcommittee does not have the authority to bind either Party. The Parties shall negotiate in good faith to determine what actions, if any, are appropriate in light of the subcommittee’s recommendation(s).